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KTV stands for Karaoke Television, before coming to China I’d heard how there were more karaoke places than clubs and bas in Chinese cities as they love singing. When I arrived I expected that every weekend Chinese people would be inviting me to KTV and that every Chinese person would have their own special playlist of songs that they like to sing but from my experience it’s not like that.

The first time I went to KTV there were about six of us, we had our own private room with a big screen TV and a little one where you choose the songs. Straight away my friend Karen ran over to the ‘jukebox’ and started choosing songs to sing, then Alex also went to choose his songs. Then they told me to choose some songs, it was difficult to choose as they had so many, was I in a 90’s Spice Girls mood, did I want to go for a serious Westlife one or choose something current like Katy Perry? I chose a few songs and it was fun singing them. We had tambourines and everything.


It was more fun than I expected. The idea of going sober to sing karaoke at 2pm was a bit of a nightmare. I thought I’d be too embarrassed to sing with no Dutch courage but I got into it and with Karen sung some Chinese S.H.E songs (one is above, you can listen to it). When we finished, Karen told me that I hadn’t got into it enough and that I hadn’t given my best. She was disappointed I didn’t sing more but I didn’t get chance to sing as they were all hogging the mike!

The second time I went to KTV was with a different set of Chinese friends, it was last Sunday. There were only four of us as everybody is studying for exams and they don’t have time to socialise. They told me to choose the first few songs so I flicked through, chose a Britney one, a Beyonce and a Spice Girls to get started, expecting them to choose more songs whilst I was singing..,but they didn’t. They sat there watching and listening to me sing, too embarrassed to sing themselves. They told me I sang really well so should choose some more songs. After the 9th one it became clear that I’d be doing most of the singing today. I didn’t mind too much as I like singing and there were lots of throwback 90s tunes that I hadn’t heard for many years. After an hour, my throat hurt a bit so I told them they had to sing something and Emily chose 倔强, my friend Karen’s favourite song. It was nice to have a little break but after they gave the mike straight back to me for another two hours.

Both times, although not perfect were really fun and I wish I went to KTV more times during my time in China, I fear now there’s not enough time and everybody is too busy with exams. Each week I know more Chinese songs so can join in when my friends choose Chinese songs, even though the lyrics on screen are often Taiwan traditional characters it doesn’t make much of a difference. I just make up the sounds.

Bruno Mars

I leave you with Karen’s favourite song, Stubborn.



2 thoughts on “KTV

  1. Ah, yes KTV was invented in Taiwan. While Karaoke was invented in Japan, Taiwanese took a step further and thought of having “private rooms.” My husband met one of the inventors while he was growing up in Taiwan. Now KTV is everywhere. 🙂 I only had karaoke at my mother-in-law’s place. I never actually went to KTV yet. I should change that.

    1. Yes the private rooms are such a great concept, even though in one place I went to, the rooms were not soundproof so in the toilet I could hear everyone singing all sorts. Try out a ktv, if you enjoy singing you’ll love it! Just sometimes its hard to choose a song as there are thousands!

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